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Keeping hands dry in winter
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Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/04/2009 07:52:24 MDT Print View

One of the things I didn't like about snow camping last year was that I couldn't for the life of me figure out a way to keep my hands dry. The rest of me was fine, but by morning all my gloves were soaked, so I resorted to just bringing lots of pairs of gloves.

I tried 'waterproof' gloves and 'waterpoorf' mitts. I understand the seams are likely the weak point. Is it worth the effort to seam seal my OR Snowline mitts, or is there just no such thing as truly waterproof handwear?

I've been looking at the MLD Event mitts, and while not put off by the price, the durability gives me pause.

How do other snowcampers keep there hands dry?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/04/2009 08:03:00 MDT Print View

Your gloves were soaked from the outside or from the inside?

Just hiking along in the snow/rain, or shoveling snow caves?

If the former, get better gloves. They are out there, or durable shells.

If the latter, consider vapor barrier products on the inside and WP on the outside.

Edited by greg23 on 10/04/2009 08:05:15 MDT.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/04/2009 08:04:00 MDT Print View

First, what is your liner/glove/mitt combination? Also, how do your hands get wet? Are you digging a snow cave, just hiking/skiing/etc?

I use highly-breathable liners (BD powerstretch - now called midweights) and a wp/b insulated mitt (REI Ridgecrest). I don't dig a lot of snow caves, and my hands get wet generally from sweating or while cooking.

I also own a pair of MLD eVent mitts, but I do not use them in winter.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 10/04/2009 08:04:32 MDT.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/06/2009 19:04:56 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments.

My combo last year was a midweight fleece base + a supposedly WP/B outer. 1st trip it was the REI Switchback glove. Started to wet out snowshoeing and completely wet out digging a trench for our Megamid. 2nd trip was the fleece base under a pair of OR Snowline mitts made out of their WP/B ventia fabric. These did a bit better, as I left them off for the snowshoe in and for digging. Realized I should just let a pair of fleece gloves get wet, as they'd stay warm when wet.

Based on your comments, I probably underestimated the amount of wet that came from my hands sweating. It'd be just like wearing my shell jacket, obviously, but that never occurred to me. Would cheapo surgical gloves make a decent VB?

I just ordered a used pair of OR Arete Goretex gloves, so hopefully those will outperform the Ridgecrests. I can try seam sealing the Snowlines. I might get a pair of the MLD Mitts for winter running at the very least, now that I live where they have real winters again.

Edited by jrmacd on 10/06/2009 19:05:36 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/06/2009 19:31:14 MDT Print View

"Would cheapo surgical gloves make a decent VB"

Yup, they are great, but hard to put back on once they're wet inside (from perspiration). They also make a great windblock glove...

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/06/2009 19:53:18 MDT Print View

But if your 'wet on the inside' gloves are dry on the outside, turn them inside out, give them a hard puff, and put them on. There won't be enough moisture on the outside to hurt any thing, but they Will feel cold.

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
eVent gloves? on 10/06/2009 22:13:27 MDT Print View

Interesting topic on which I can commiserate.

Does anyone know of any gear manufacturers that use eVent in their waterproof/breathable gloves?

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Must keep my hands warm. on 10/06/2009 22:35:04 MDT Print View

Especially a problem when walking with sticks. Found many of the OR over mitts with gaiters to be bullet proof. Usually use over a down or synthetic fill mitten depending (Patagonia usually has a nice down mitt for layering). Or a heavy weight synthetic pile fleece glove covered by one of these shell mitts if it's warmer. You can add a little Ice breaker wool liner under the down glove if you are going to need your fingers occasionally. OR makes some bulletproof mitts with serious gaiters -- shells and insulated. Also some seam taped goretex mitts with removable liners of various materials -- can take them apart and put them in the bottom of your sleeping bag.

For around camp always have a lightweight pair of latex kitchen gloves in a size too big that will fit liner gloves for dealing with cold water -- filtering, washing up, etc.

So, would carry goretex shell mitt with good gaiter+ poofy insulating mitt + pile glove+icebreaker liner+the latex dish glove large enough to fit over the pile glove. Need to be careful due to previous (relatively minor) cold injuries and probably an underlying condition that causes the hands to get cold easily. (Guess, I'll have to cut weight somewhere else. Ha. What I always say.)

BTW, gloves have a lot more seams than mittens.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/06/2009 22:58:20 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/07/2009 00:34:30 MDT Print View

My experience is that there is no truly waterproof handware because my hands sweat up a storm. No waterproof breathable material passes enough moisture. In colder weather I have been found of vapor barrier mitts. sI started with the latex gloves and eventually switched to a pair of RBH designs mitts. My hands feel a bit damp... but it's a continuously warm damp so it's ok.

I yet to found a glove that doesn't get soaked from external moisture if I am doing any work in the snow.. so I have pretty much given up on gloves with shells.

In more moderate conditions the best I have found are liners or moderate fleece mitts, with a seam sealed overmitt. Sometimes wear just the liners/fleece to provide ventilation and prevent overheating. When doing serious snow work I am often using a light liner (which doesn't hold a lot of accumulated moisture) and the overmitt. This combination drys out pretty quickly but protects my hands. When it's cold enough that my hands won't overheat I wear fleece gloves or mitts with the over mittens.

I think the best article on this topic was Andy Kirkpatrick's truth about gloves


Edited by verber on 10/07/2009 02:12:50 MDT.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Beat me to it. on 10/07/2009 01:32:49 MDT Print View

Mark you beat me to the link to Andy's article. It certainly made a difference to me.

I also use Hartley's trick with the latex gloves over liners. I've extended these to snow work as well. Australian snow tends to be quite wet, and I find these are great for pitching the 'Mid or digging a kitchen. I use slightly tougher gloves for gardening, but that's mostly because I'm a bloke, and these are black not yellow, lilac or pink.


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Beat me to it. on 10/07/2009 07:21:30 MDT Print View

Some even advocate waterproof neoprene fishing gloves. Not light though.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Keeping hands dry in winter on 10/07/2009 08:46:42 MDT Print View

I have not used them, but the RAB Latok glove seems like a neat idea. Full eVENT membrane, but siliconized palm and fleece lined material. Spec at 5oz.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
what works for me on 10/09/2009 22:41:24 MDT Print View

I have done well with gore-tex shell mittens, homemade orlon mittens (knitted for me by my friend's mom in about 1973 and still going strong)and powerstretch liner gloves. I used to use homemade shell mitts, but have recently switched to some Outdor Research Latutude Mitts (without the supplied liner gloves) due to seam leakage with the homemade jobs. For me the real key to dry hands is managing the insulation level.It's easy to keep water out with the gore-tex shells, but if you wear too much inside them you'll sweat and get the insulation layers wet from the inside. I sometimes wear just the shells, often wear the shells and the liners, sometimes wear the shells and the mittens, and very rarely wear the whole shebang. and when the gloves come off in the tent, they go inside my clothing to stay warm, and any little bit of moisture will get dried by body heat. I've used a variety of liners over the years - wool, wool/polypropylene, ploypropylene, and now powerstretch, bu thte basic system has always kept my hands warm and dry - if carefully managed.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Sweaty Hands on 10/10/2009 02:50:23 MDT Print View

There are plenty of cream antiperspirants that can be used on the hands/feet. You might try Kiehl's I use this for under arms and its fragrance free and has a nice texture. On another recent thread someone mentioned a fragrance free 5 day anti-perspirant from Germany. I am intrigued by this. I googled it and it looks like a winner. There are more potent anti-perspirants available in the US by prescription. Also botox is increasingly being used for this problem.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : "Keeping hands dry in winter" on 10/10/2009 04:43:07 MDT Print View

Have a look at Buffalo Mitts
Even if they get damp, your hands will stay warm, and they dry very quickly.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Newspaper bags on 10/10/2009 06:42:00 MDT Print View

Just discovered this thread.

Cheapskate that I am, I carry a wad of the bags that my daily newspaper comes in. I wear them over my socks, and in wet conditions, rubber banded over my wrists and gloves. They are a bit fragile, but they stretch pretty well and can easily be replaced if they break through with only minor weight penalty.

Another alternative if you don't get a daily newspaper: veggie bags from your local grocery. They're a bit more fragile, but their light weight makes it possible to carry a bunch of them.

I know. Nutty. But frugal and effective.


Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Newspaper bags on 10/13/2009 06:18:27 MDT Print View

I've used vegetable bags for my feet, but for my hands I'd like a little more dexterity.

Mark and Rod, that article is great. That, along with reading Mike C!'s winter gear list confirms what I'd started to suspect last winter; that there is no such thing as a fully waterproof system, so you just need to bring a lot of liners and swap them out.

I did just order myself a pair of MLD Event mitts to go along with my Duomid. I'll have more chances to test a winter glove system this winter as on the East Coast it will be right outside my door, rather than having to drive to it from San Francisco.

Mike, if I can find those Buffalo mitts at an American retailer I might give them a try.

I also see a lot of nice OR mitts and gloves on Ebay, presumably from military guys back from the war(s).

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
O2 rainwear stuffsacks on 10/13/2009 15:12:55 MDT Print View

The stuffsacks the O2 rainwear rainsyit comes with make excellent wp/b mitts. Very lightweight, dual purpose, and inexpensive.

Michael Kerris
(MKerris) - F
Re: How about a insulated jacket made with Polarguard Delta and Event Fabric Shell on 10/14/2009 05:03:08 MDT Print View

I have not seen any jackets with this combination. From my research it seems like the best combination. Thoughts?

frank martin
(sriprank) - F

Locale: NORCAL
Polarguard/Event on 10/18/2009 08:03:56 MDT Print View

I would never use a combination shell. I would always use two separate garments.

You just have more control with separate garments. Combining them in MOST situations will cause you to sweat.
While hiking I may wear a shell on some occasions but only wear insulation during breaks or at camp.